TWO BULLETS LEFT —
very first-draft like... from 2015?
Las Vegas Strip 3:45 am
The Strip never quite sleeps — even at that moment when movement wanes and those tipsy sorts not enclosed in all-night wombs have departed in cabs, the neon lights and video towers flicker out ultra-luxe lifestyles at a bargain. The bridges that crisscross an otherwise pedestrian-hostile desert are empty but for the odd vagrant too out of his head to make it to the shelter of darker rock and scrub — the vacant expanses that hint at hard times only minutes from the glitter. The plexiglass on the overpasses, designed to halt the fall of brawlers and losers on the felt flickers in a hundred fuck-me colors — intimations that one has come to a place where money spent is just a colorform, unfocused.
The body sprawled against the plexiglass was in a half-upright posture exactly mimicking the sort of gone person who would continue to sit in that position, staring epically at the sun, well after the midmorning pavement was baked. His skin would be burnt leather, in a month or two he would be dead — leaving Las Vegas a vacant myth, the same as thousands of others too broke to do anything but die by degrees.
It was not until the sun ran across the Bellagio moat and the rays radiated on the metallic surface of the Aria, creating a vaporous orange taffy, that the cleaning lady noticed him. The older Asian woman had been assiduously avoiding the man’s slumped form for some time, wiping down the rails and scrubbing plexiglass into some semblance of transparency. The moment she noticed, she was still with soapy bucket avoiding his patch. But a sudden reflection of light off the Paris hot air balloon, as thin and pointed as that which guided hobbits into Smaug’s lair, etched a frozen turbulence, a moment of impact — when the blood trickled from the cranium faster than the body sank and smeared a crimson wash down the smooth surface behind his shoulders. She took a single step forward, enough to see the unending night in his dilated pupils, and screamed.
“Thank god for barriers,” the junior officer thought, angling a toothpick between teeth. The height and pattern of the blood spatter on the plexiglass indicated that the body would have otherwise fallen off the overpass onto the Las Vegas Strip, pancaked on a 2 am asphalt crawling with taxis. Instead, the body had been nicely framed, left until the morning for proper inspection. The body was in good enough condition — forensics would blast through it in half a day, the junior officer thought. He almost recognized what remained of the face — had maybe sat with him at a late-night table once or twice, at the Orleans or the Nugget.